Transcript of Email to @papachrismatts Explaining #Rightshifting

Transcript of Email to @papachrismatts Explaining #Rightshifting

[From the Archive: Originally posted at Jul 31, 2010]

Having kindly taken the time to look into the Rightshifting ideas I have been championing for some time, Chris Matts recently emailed me with his comments:

“From what I’ve read, Rightshifting seems to be a call to arms to radically shift improvement of organisations. What I’ve not discovered is the means [Rightshifting proposes] to achieve this.”

He thought my reply warranted wider publication, so I’ve taken the opportunity to post that reply here:

You’re absolutely right, in that the Rightshifting campaign is a call to arms to radically shift improvement of organisations (and specifically, their *effectiveness*). We have expressly avoided nailing ourselves to any particular means, for a number of reasons (see below).

I firmly believe that the first and biggest hurdle to improved effectiveness is the ignorance of the vast majority of decisions-makers, software development services purchasers, etc., as to how *in*effective their software development organisation presently is, and just how much *more* effective it could be. The question of “how” although relevant, only enters the equation once people have determined that they’re no longer satisfied with their status quo.

And of course, as you and I know, the “how” (or rather, many different “how”s) has been demonstrated in practice in enough places that “how” is not so much of a problem these days.

So, in a nutshell, Rightshifting is about education. Specifically, it’s about educating people as to what’s *possible* (and realistically achievable).

Note: Whereas the top line for Rightshifting is about education and thence to improved organisational effectiveness, the bottom line for me has ALWAYS been about creating more humane, fulfilling work and workplaces.

BTW Grant Rule – my comrade-in-arms in Rightshifting – has a marginally different take on the bottom line (concerning e.g. social responsibility, the Five Capitals, and sustainability in the macro-economic sense).

If you’ve not yet seen it, the article I feel that best speaks to the above is my “All Executives Are Unethical” paper, available here: (pdf).

Some reasons for remaining silent on means

  1. The idea of Rightshifting as an awareness campaign comes, not least, from Sir John Whitmore’s work on coaching. Specifically, the A.R.C. acronym: Awareness, Responsibility, Commitment. i.e. People won’t commit to take action about something before they have come to feel responsible for the issue, and that feeling of responsibility can only happen once they have become aware that there is an issue needing attention.
  2. I believe means are utterly contingent on context (Genshi Genbutsu – at least for Analytic-> Synergistic transitions and further to the right, c.f. the Ha and Ri stages in “Shu Ha Ri”, or beyond stages 1 and 2 in the Dreyfus Model) and would be loath to see the emergence and consolidation of Rightshifting “best practices”.
  3. We want to enrol as many supporters into the Rightshifting campaign as possible. Not least because we have a whole industry to educate. Leaving the means open to individual suppliers allows them to compete on delivering the most effective means they can find into the market, whilst cooperating on the basic education and awareness campaign (coopetition being a watchword of Chaordic organisations, btw, c.f. Dee Hock).
  4. I have always felt that people buy in to change better, when they feel ownership of the change. Allowing (encouraging) folks to discover and implement their own means will, I believe, contribute positively to feelings of ownership, and thus to the sustainability of the necessary changes.
  5. On a personal note, Falling Blossoms* was founded on the notion of emptiness as a positive dynamic. I believe that emptiness (as in empty space) motivates people to fill in the blanks for themselves. Lack of express means for Rightshifting is my attempt to implement this concept in the Rightshifting equation.

*One day, in a mood of sublime emptiness, Subhuti was resting underneath a tree when flowers began to fall about him.
“We are praising you for your discourse on emptiness,” the gods whispered to Subhuti.
“But I have not spoken of emptiness,” replied Subhuti.
“You have not spoken of emptiness, we have not heard emptiness,” responded the gods.
“This is the true emptiness.”
The blossoms showered upon Subhuti as rain.

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